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University of Texas student reprimanded for speaking honestly

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Breckyn Hager was merely speaking his mind.

NCAA Football: Texas at Oklahoma Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

After Texas beat Iowa State on Saturday, Longhorns linebacker Breckyn Hager talked to the press. Only speaking truthfully, he told them two things.

1. “OU has no defense.”

A fair statement about a team that recently fired its defensive coordinator and has now followed that by giving up 524 yards and 40 points at home to Kansas.

2. “What time is it? It’s 11:12 ... and OU still sucks.”

A statement of opinion, but one that any good Texas student or fan would wholeheartedly believe. The two fanbases regularly tell each other “OU STILL SUCKS” and “TEXAS STILL SUCKS.” “It’s [some time] and [Oklahoma/Texas] still sucks!” is common phrasing.

Hager made these truthful and benign comments during a postgame media session with reporters after Texas beat Iowa State. They were notable because it is increasingly likely UT and OU will play each other in the Big 12 Championship Game on Dec. 1.

Hager is a firecracker of a quote in general, and he was in form after this game. Here’s how the senior captain was dressed when he did his postgame rounds:

Hager’s honest statements about his rival upset the Big 12 office, which came from the top rope Monday to issue a stern PUBLIC REPRIMAND.

Public reprimands are how athletic conferences tell players they don’t approve of their conduct without actually fining them, which conferences can’t do, because it’d be hard to justify fining people who generate dump trucks of dollars for you without getting paid.

Here’s the conference’s galled statement:

Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced a public reprimand of University of Texas football player Breckyn Hager for his postgame remarks after Saturday’s contest against Iowa State. His comments were in violation of the conference’s sportsmanship and ethical conduct policies.

“Breckyn Hager violated the conference rule that prohibits coaches, student-athletes, athletic department staff and university personnel from making negative comments about other member institutions for his remarks about the University of Oklahoma,” said Bowlsby. “This is Mr. Hager’s second violation of the conference sportsmanship rules and therefore, he is receiving a public reprimand and will be expected to issue a public apology for his inappropriate comments.”

The Big 12’s sportsmanship policy strictly prohibits anyone in a Big 12 athletic department from saying anything bad about anyone else in the Big 12:

“Coaches, student athletes and members of the athletics department staff are prohibited from making public comments that are negative about other member institutions, including, but not limited to, negative comments about the personnel, student athletes, support groups and general matters related to the university, its location, etc.”

Fortunately, no Big 12 school would ever do anything more serious or harmful than field a bad defense. Otherwise, a policy like this could be used to prevent honest criticism of people who deserve it. Good thing that’s a total hypothetical!

Hager did indeed apologize for his grievous crime.

“I consider sportsmanship to be an essential part of the game I so truly love. I spoke with our athletics director Chris Del Conte and Coach Herman about what I said after Saturday’s game and understand why it reflected poorly on me and my team. I had no ill intentions when I made my comments about Oklahoma, which included a phrase that’s used by fans, but I have to realize that it’s different coming from me. My thought process was that it would put a fun and light-hearted charge into the greatest rivalry in college football that my family has been involved in playing in for many years, but I can see now that was not the way to do it.

”I have the utmost respect for the University of Oklahoma and their football program and know a number of players on their team, and I want to apologize to them. I want to represent myself, my family, my football program, my university and the Big 12 Conference in the best possible way. I’m truly sorry for the comments I made, will learn from this and will keep working to improve my ability to think about the ramifications of what I say before I say it.”

Thank heavens he has been dealt with.